UAW Local 677 approves 'last, best and final' offer from Mack Trucks
- Members of UAW Local 677 have voted to accept the "last, best and final offer" from Mack Trucks
- The new contract will mandate some aspects of job security, eventual 19% wage increases and an immediate $3,500 bonus
- Mack has rejected previous UAW offers and recently threatened to replace about 2,400 workers if they did not accept the newly proposed deal
ALLENTOWN, Pa.— The United Auto Workers in Allentown, UAW Local 677, on Wednesday approved a "last, best and final" offer from Mack Trucks, ending a 39-day strike.
That means about 2,400 unionized Mack Trucks workers are clear to go back to work at the plant in nearby Lower Macungie Township, after entering a sixth week on strike.
Mack had rejected previous proposals from the union after a tentative agreement and threatened to replace every worker who does not accept the latest offer from the company.
'It's a very good contract'
UAW Local 677 President Scott Wolf said that while he encouraged members to vote however they chose, he viewed the latest five-year contract offer positively.
"As far as the contract itself, money-wise, it's the best contract, money-wise that we've seen," Wolf said.
Wolf said one of the big selling points for him was the promised pay bumps.
"Talking to people, older members, in 40 or 50 years, we have 19 percent across the five years, 10 percent upon ratification — a 10 percent raise across the board to everybody — it's a very good contract," Wolf said.
Workers are scheduled to return to their jobs Monday, according to the company.
The Mack Trucks strike in the Lehigh Valley is a prominent part of a national strike involving the larger organization of the UAW union, as well as Mack Trucks as a whole.
Terms of the new deal
The main components of the new contract are job permanence, working hours, and wages.
One of the main points of dispute, Wolf said, was an extra 30 minutes in the work day.
"Changing to an eight-hour day, and they [Mack Trucks] want to go to an eight-and-a-half hour day because they want to gain more market share," Wolf said.
According to Mack Trucks, Wolf said, that 30 minutes adds up when multiplied by thousands of workers, and can add up to 1,600 more trucks a year.
Wolf said the extra 30 minutes was not entirely popular among UAW workers, but it helped to explain the big picture to members.
Part of the new deal is that workers are paid during their lunch hour — "so you're actually only working eight hours," Wolf said. "That was one of those big issues."
The new contract also includes a clause that ensures workers are paid for a full eight-and-a-half hour day during bereavement or other types of paid time off.
"We really had to explain the situation — why the company needs to do this, and it's because we need to gain market share," Wolf said. "And if the company wants to stay there, and we want to keep our job, it's something we need to do."
Part of the negotiation effort, from Wolf's perspective, was establishing clarity, and making sure members were all on the same page with a clear picture of the terms.
Wolf and his team at the union sat down with an attorney to figure out how best to communicate what they were voting on to their roughly 2,400 members. They decided to publish a 23-page brochure that spelled out the contract in plain English.
"I think people are confident this time because we really did our homework," Wolf said. "We spent a lot of time with the information, getting the information out with the legal team, and the support we got from our international union."
On the picket line
Earlier, about a 20-minute drive away from the UAW building at the Lower Macungie Mack Trucks assembly plant, dozens of workers were standing on the picket lines awaiting the tally of the vote.
Some of them wore giant signs that read "UAW ON STRIKE," while others chopped firewood with an axe, and built fires in metal barrels with the letters "UAW" carved into them.
At one of the stations, a worker heated ramen noodles on top of the barrel while the small fire burned.
Support for the strike appeared to be prevalent in the neighborhood, with multiple vehicles, including school buses beeping and waving at the striking workers.
At one point, a man in a pickup truck pulled over and chatted with the members of the picket line, expressing support.
The striking workers said they had been instructed not to speak with media, so did not give comment.
Stephen Roy, president of Mack Trucks, issued this statement to LehighValleyNews.com:
“The new agreement guarantees significant wage growth and delivers excellent benefits for our employees and their families, at the same time, it will safeguard our competitiveness and allow us to continue making the necessary investments in our people, plants and products.”